AllSAFE supports EPA stance on blender pumps

By Erin Voegele | August 04, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 8, 2008 at 11:38 a.m. CST

The Alliance for a Safe Alternative Fuels Environment (AllSAFE) released a statement Sept. 3 in support of a July 31 U.S. EPA letter that addressed self-directed ethanol blender pumps at retail outlets. The letter, written by EPA Air Enforcement Division Director Adam Kushner, was addressed to Bob Greco, director of downstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute.

The correspondence, which was intended to clarify the EPA's previously noted views on the issue, stated that retailers are prohibited from selling fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol for use in standard vehicles and engines, but that fuel blends of up to 85 percent ethanol may be sold for use in flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV) and engines. The letter suggested that retail stations conspicuously label ethanol blender pumps to inform the public that the fuel is only for use in FFV and engines and that the use of a fuel blend containing more than 10 percent ethanol in a non-flexible fuel engine may damage the vehicle or engine and void its warranty.

According to a press release issued by AllSAFE, the organization is concerned that ethanol blender pumps may not be properly labeled and as a result customers are unaware that ethanol levels of more than 10 percent are for use in FFV only.

According to AllSAFE spokesman Kris Kiser, his organization is not anti-ethanol. Instead, their goal is to educate consumers. He said the labels on blender pumps he has seen say "recommended for flex-fuel vehicles only." Kiser said the wording is not strong enough and doesn't adequately inform consumers using ethanol blends higher than E10 in standard vehicles and engines is illegal and will negate the manufacture's warrantee.

"We can design a machine to run on anything," Kiser said. "We just need to know what it is." He said the industry is in a strange period right now - Congress has mandated greater use of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply and the U.S. DOE is testing higher blends and working with the EPA to figure out what effects midrange blends might pose to engine parts and emissions. However, he added, fuel blends higher than E10 have not yet been approved and legalized for use in non-flexible fuel engines, which means engine manufacturers must still design engines to run on certified fuel blends between regular unleaded gasoline and E10.

"Without better consumer education, retailers may face a consumer backlash by using the wrong fuel in their products," Kiser said. "We do not wish to see a repeat of the consumer backlash against ethanol fuels that occurred in the 1970s during the oil embargo."